In the first article of a four-part briefing we look at how companies are ignoring the alarming decline in bee populations at their peril
When a small city in South Carolina called Summerville (nicknamed “Flowertown”) aerial-sprayed a pesticide called Naled due to fear of Zika-carrying mosquitos and killed millions of local honey bees in August, bee activists declared it another “bee-pocalypse’ – a direct demonstration of how harmful chemical controls can be to important pollinators.
“America’s bees are dying in droves,” warned National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) president Rhea Suh in an email to members. Big bee deaths are also an economic loss, as honeybees provide essential pollinator services to the US valued at between $10bn and $15bn annually.
Yet there is a more complex story behind the “bee-pocalypse” headlines, and it’s not just about honey bees, which are one of about 20,000 bee species. The danger is to all pollinators, with honeybees being a sympathetic focal point.
More important than public awareness is that more companies understand the pollinator predicament, and that those with a direct interest in pollinator protection take action. Commentators warn that if industrial agriculture continues its chemically dependent trajectory it may not be enough to prevent “pollinator-pocalypse”.
According to a USDA-funded study US beekeepers lost 44% of their honeybee colonies in the year to this April. As much human food, especially...